EDEN PRAIRIE — The injury, torn anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in Adrian Peterson’s left knee, couldn’t have been much more devastating for an NFL running back.
This is a game where split-seconds, whether an extra burst of acceleration or a stop-on-a-dime cut, can mean the difference between reaching the end zone and being tackled at the line of scrimmage. Reconstructive surgery can quickly turn dominant players into ordinary ones in a league with don’t-blink-short careers.
Peterson has always been one of a kind, though. On one hand, returning for Minnesota’s season opener roughly 8 1/2 months after his operation and rushing for 1,600 yards through 13 games is an almost-unfathomable accomplishment. On the flip side, this year for him has simply fallen in line with a long list of feats for this once-in-a-generation package of power, determination and speed.
“You can’t be surprised anymore,” Vikings right tackle Phil Loadholt said. “I’ve seen him do everything. You’ve just come to expect that kind of stuff out of him now.”
There are a few other tricks Peterson just might be able to pull off season, too:
- Become the seventh 2,000-yard rusher in history and carry the Vikings to the playoffs, without a competent passing attack in a league dominated by strong-armed, super-accurate quarterbacks.
- Win the Comeback Player of the Year award in a season when Peyton Manning’s successful return from a neck problem that required a year off has already put Denver in the playoffs and thrust the 36-year-old quarterback to the forefront of the Most Valuable Player discussion.
With typical unflinching confidence, Peterson said in a recent interview with The Associated Press he’s expecting to win the comeback award.
“It was something that flashed across my mind, me knowing what I was going to be able to do, being where I’m at now,” Peterson said. “I kind of have that in the bag, especially how I’ve been telling people I’m going to come back stronger and better than ever. So I’ve pretty much zip-locked that in a bag and sealed it. It’ll be cool to win it.”